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PHL entry wins top prize in Macao film festival project market

By Edwin P. Sallan — 09.12.19

Producers Bradley Liew and Patti Lapus together with jury members, acclaimed Singaporean director Eric Khoo, world renowned Japanese producer Shozo Ichiyama and European Film Market head Matthijs Wouter Knol flank director Dodo Dayao following the Best Project Award win of his film, Dear Wormwood at the IFFAM Project Market in Macao

The project is one of two entries from the Philippines that was selected as finalists for the IFFAM Project Market or the Industry Hub Section of the annual film festival, which provides “a platform for a blend of top-level talents and rising stars from around the globe, to showcase feature film projects and encourage international collaboration.”

For its victory that was announced on Sunday, December 8, Dear Wormwood won a cash prize of US$15,000 according to Film Development Council of the Philippines chair Liza Diño-Seguerra who is also in Macao to lend support to the festival’s Philippine delegates.

Produced by Patti Lapus and Bradley Liew for the independent film outfit, Epicmedia, Dear Wormwood looms to be the long-awaited sophomore feature by Dayao, a film critic turned horror filmmaker whose directorial debut, Violator won four awards including Best Picture in the Philippine-based Cinema One Originals film festival in 2014.

“This is my take on a dark fairy tale. It is about how we’re killing our forests and eventually destroying our own planet. It’s going to be a film filled with strange flowers, icky transformations and a monster or two,” Dayao said in further describing his film.

Producer Liew also called Dear Wormwood “a body horror film with elements of the supernatural, gore and nature striking back at humans. It is a dark fairy tale backdropped by the currently environmental disaster we are facing right now. We are planning to make this film an international co production and we’re here in Macau looking for international partners, co-producers, sales agents and financing. We plan to start filming end of 2020.”

Thrilled for the project’s victory, Diño-Seguerra noted that project markets like the one in IFFAM are “very important for Filipino films that want to explore [the prospects of] opening more to the global market.”

“I heard that the projects here are really tough, really high-level so I’m excited about our win,” the FDCP chair further quipped.

The other Filipino entry in the IFFAM Project Market is Phyllis Grande’s Everybody Leaves, a coming-of-age drama about “a Filipino exchange student in Japan is searching for her Japanese father while cleaning houses of people who have died [as] her search leads to uncomfortable truths about life and death.”

“Inspired by the aesthetics of the novels of Japanese author Haruki Murakami, the film wants to question, rather than answer, the vulnerabilities of disappearing. We are planning to shoot the film mid-2021 and we’re looking for co-producers and financing,” Grande elaborated. She and producer Alemberg Ang presented the film in the IFFAM Project.

Diño-Seguerra said another entry worth mentioning is Nocebo by director Lorcan Finnegan and producers Brunella Cocchiglia and Emily Leo. Recognized by the jury as an outstanding film project, it was complemented with an honorable mention during the Awards Ceremony.

A distinguished industry jury composed of Eric Khoo, Film Director (Singapore), Matthijs Wouter Knol, Berlinale EFM Director (Germany), and Shozo Ichiyama, Producer/CEO of Kino International (Japan) met with the film teams to determine which would be awarded the four cash prizes totaling US$40,000.

The other three winners are The Day and Night of Brahma (Creative Excellence Award), Drum Wave (Best Co-production Award) and Uk Kei  (Macao Spirit Award).

Over 50 percent of the projects have Asian subject matter, 13 among the total 16 projects are genre films: nine selected by IPM, and one each from international genre market partners. The other three projects are arthouse titles.

This article was first published here.